New Technique Uses Onyx To Fill Hard-To-Treat Aneurysms

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On Sunday, Diane Long struggled with double vision because of a large aneurysm in her brain compressing a nerve that controls eye movement. On Monday, she became one of the first in the country to have surgery using a noninvasive procedure and a newly developed material called Onyx.

It has been quite a week for aneurysm patient Diane Long, of Homewood, Illinois. On Sunday, she struggled with double vision because of a large aneurysm in her brain compressing a nerve that controls eye movement. On Monday, she became one of the first in the country to have surgery using a noninvasive procedure and a newly developed material called Onyx. On Wednesday she was back home and feeling like she had a new lease on life.

An aneurysm is a pocket formed on a weakened vessel wall, which can disrupt normal blood flow, develop clots and in some cases, burst. Diane has a strong genetic predisposition to large aneurysms of the brain. Four of her family members, including two sisters, have received treaent for these type of aneurysms. So in 2005, when one her sisters developed a bleeding aneurysm, Diane made an appoinent for an MRI of her brain. At that time, the MRI scans showed a small aneurysm and the doctors said they would watch it. Recently it began to grow again, causing her to have a drooping eyelid and double vision.

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Diane, who is a home health care nurse, carefully researched her treaent options for the large, 1.8 cm aneurysm. Through her research, she found Dr. Demetrius Lopes, an experienced vascular neurosurgeon with the Chicago Institute of Neurosurgery and Neuroresearch (CINN) medical group. Because of the large size of the aneurysm and the family history, Lopes suggested she use a stent combined with Onyx, a new liquid polymer material that fills the aneurysm pocket and prevents future blood flow into the weakened area of the vessel. It is injected through a catheter into the blood vessel of the brain at the location of the aneurysm. Once it is injected it solidifies into a spongy, cohesive material. Dr. Lopes is the first in Illinois and among the first physicians in the country to use Onyx to treat an aneurysm in the brain.

"I feel a tremendous relief that the time bomb hasn't exploded," she admits. "I am amazed that Dr. Lopes was able to use a treaent method that will hopefully prevent me from having future growth or rupture of the aneurysm, and he did it without opening up my skull. I was up and moving soon after the surgery, and he says my double vision will resolve over the next few months."

For more than 25 years, surgeons have opened the skull and placed a tiny metal clip at the base of the aneurysm. More recently, a noninvasive procedure using coils has been the treaent of choice. Flexible soft-wire coils are threaded through the catheter to the aneurysm. Once in place, the coils are released into the aneurysm sac, packing the open space and restoring normal blood flow. While coiling offers patients significant benefits due to it's minimally invasive nature, one of the shortfalls of coiling can be its long-term durability, especially in very large aneurysms, such as in Diane's case. New advancements that provide for a more complete filling of the aneurysm sac such as Onyx, promise to provide patients who have either recurrent aneurysms after coiling or those that are determined to be unsuitable for coiling upfront another minimally-invasive alternative.

"Today there are numerous options for treating aneurysms," says Lopes. "The treaent I select depends on the size and shape of the aneurysm. So for patients like Diane, who have large, hard-to-treat aneurysms, I opted for using the Onyx along with a stent, which will completely block the blood flow and will keep her trouble-free for many more years, and hopefully, forever."

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